Protecting the Aquifer - Town of Gibsons

Safeguarding our primary water source

In Gibsons, we have been blessed with favourable access to Aquifer 560 (Gibsons Aquifer), a pure groundwater resource that provides potable water to the Town’s three water zones. It’s a pristine, award-winning and irreplaceable natural asset and we take our stewardship of it very seriously.

Read the “Protecting the Aquifer” section of the Town’s 2015 Official Community Plan here.

The initiatives outlined below describe actions we have taken to protect the Gibsons Aquifer within our municipal boundaries. However, safeguarding our primary water source also requires that we protect the entire watershed, which extends well beyond the Town of Gibsons’ borders. You can read about our efforts to protect the watershed here.

Development Permit Area No. 9

The Town of Gibsons has established Development Permit guidelines to regulate development in the areas designated as Development Permit Areas (DPAs).

DPA 9 is the Development Permit Area related to the Gibsons Aquifer and was established to:

  • Protect the Gibsons Aquifer from possible pollution from land use and development activities;
  • Protect the integrity of the low-permeable till layer (the aquitard);
  • Promote the efficient use of water to ensure a sustainable hydrologic system in the watershed and ensure a sustainable source of potable water; and
  • Provide an opportunity for furthering the understanding of the hydrology of the Gibsons Aquifer system.

Read “Gibsons Aquifer DPA No 9” section of the Town’s 2015 Official Community Plan here.

Read more about DPA 9 and its update here.

Aquifer Mapping Study & Update

Another large investment the Town’s taxpayers have made in protecting our water source is the commissioning of a grant-assisted four-year mapping study of the Gibsons Aquifer and its subsequent update.

The initial Aquifer Mapping Study was completed in 2013 for a total cost of $500,000. The resulting report is a comprehensive, science-based water-strategy document that became a key resource for any person contemplating projects that might impact the aquifer, from the Town’s planners to the province’s environmental officers.

In June 2022, a comprehensive update to the original mapping data was completed. The new report integrated all hydrogeological data collected by the Town since 2013, updated the related geological and numerical groundwater model, and assessed the long-term sustainable supply from the Gibsons Aquifer under various demand and climate conditions. Overall findings were positive, with predictive modelling showing that the Town can meet future demand for water as we move towards full buildout (10,000 residents). Read more here.

Groundwater Monitoring Program

Gibson’s Official Community Plan envisions us adding approximately 5,000 residents to the Town over the next 20 years (for a total population of 10,000). As our population grows, the Aquifer Mapping Study prescribes gathering detailed information about the long-term effects of variables such as user demand, climate change, and sea level rise on the aquifer’s total capacity. Accordingly, the Town implemented an annual groundwater monitoring program in 2009, so that we are consistently able to make sound, fact-based decisions about our future build-out.

Water Metering

In 2012, the Town completed the installation of a universal water metering system at a cost of $1.5 million. This initiative delivered many important benefits, helping us to identify and repair hidden leaks and raise our collective awareness of water use. At the same time, our finance department implemented a new “user-pay” system, along with appropriate water rates, in order to cover the operation, maintenance and future replacement costs of Gibson’s water infrastructure.

Together, these initiatives have led to a dramatic decline in our community’s water use. In fact, between 2008 and 2020, our Town’s per capita water usage dropped by more than half, from approximately 800 litres per day to approximately 350 litres per day.